The Hon. Jaala Pulford MLC – travel report, United Arab Emirates (UAE), February 2017

Minister The Hon Jaala Pulford MP
Portfolio Minister for Agriculture
Minister for Regional Development
Countries visited United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Date of travel 23 – 27 February 2017
No. of official travel days 5
Number of accompanying ministerial staff 1
Accompanied by spouse in an official capacity No
Funding for the overseas trip was paid by (list department/s or agency) Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources
Air fares (including taxes and fees)$20,338
Accommodation (including taxes and fees)$2,802
Other expenses (includes surface travel and travel allowances) $2,335
Travel cost for minister and staff $25,475

*The above costs are not final and complete

Purpose of travel

The purpose of my travel was to lead the Victorian trade mission to Gulfood, Dubai, UAE and undertake business and government meetings with a view to developing business connections, promoting Victoria's food production and export credentials and to attract investment.

Specifically, the purpose of attending the Gulfood trade show and associated networking events was to open the Victorian stand,  welcome participating companies to the mission at a networking reception and address Victorian and international guests at Victoria's official networking dinner.

Business meetings were conducted to provide me with an overview of opportunities in food service (hotels, airline catering) and retail for Victorian higher value products, particularly dairy, lamb, beef and fresh horticultural produce. This then allowed me to outline Victoria's supply capability and clean, green credentials.

Benefits of travel to the State of Victoria

The State benefited through the provision of government representation and endorsement for the companies attending the mission and allowed me to receive direct feedback on the quality of Victoria's produce and the importance of strong biosecurity and traceback measures adopted by Victoria. Middle Eastern stakeholders view government support as important and Victorian companies attending the mission therefore benefited through my representation.

A visit program organised by the Victorian Government Business Office in Dubai prior to the Gulfood trade show included visits to Emirates Airline Catering which allowed me to gain an understanding of the size of this opportunity and the importance of supplier companies being responsive to quality and traceability requirements of the company.

My program also included meetings with Spinneys, Choithrams and Lulus supermarkets, benefiting, through observation, the range of quality Victorian food products.  

Sourcing from Victoria will likely be even higher in coming years due to strengthening relationships with Victoria-based suppliers, and the potential establishment of sourcing offices in Victoria.

I addressed Victorian exporters at the Welcome event prior to Gulfood opening and addressed them and their clients at the Victorian networking dinner, demonstrating the importance of export to Victoria and the Middle East and North Africa in particular. It  also provided an opportunity to highlight Victoria's in-market representation in Dubai.

Over 50 Victorian food exporting companies were present at Gulfood, with 36 accepted on the Victorian Government mission and 29 of these exhibiting (22 on the Victorian Government's 'World Food' stand and 7 on the Victorian dairy stand). Nine Victorian companies exhibited with Meat & Livestock Australia.

Gulfood is the world's largest annual trade show, with 5000 exhibitors from 120 countries and   95,000 trade visitors over the five days. My active involvement, plus the strategic media engagement organised, served to build the profile of Victorian food and beverage exports to the region. I was able to highlight Victoria's export potential in media interviews, strategic meetings and though supporting statements at mission events.

During the trade show, I was able to demonstrate support to major Victorian exporters by visiting their stands, highlighting government support for their export activities. In order to gain a further understanding of the UAE food service and retail market, stands of major Dubai importer Truebell and retailer Choithrams were also visited.

Victorian dairy companies were pleased with the support provided to them by the Victorian Government, through a dedicated stand featuring mostly value added products. The outcomes of this activity have important implications for an industry suffering low commodity prices and will be monitored closely.

Companies on the mission reported strong interest from retailers and food service importers in the UAE and across the Middle East. All companies will be surveyed for export outcomes approximately six weeks after the show, which will allow for trade leads to be assessed for both Gulfood and Foodex, Japan, which many of the same companies also attended a week after Gulfood.The overriding benefit of the travel to Dubai for Gulfood 2017, is that Middle East and North African food importers looking to source quality food and beverage products will be more likely to think of Victorian suppliers first. The range of activities that supported, promoted, endorsed and highlighted the capability of Victorian suppliers during this travel are directed to this purpose. This is particularly important in a global market where product can be sourced from around the world. Being 'globally connected' is a key priority for the Victorian Government (reflected in the Department's Strategic Plan 2016), and the travel was consistent with this priority.

Next steps / Follow up

The Department will provide me with trade outcomes and any stand-out success stories from the post-mission evaluation, conducted in coming weeks. These outcomes will be publicised, along with overall outcomes of the mission.

Follow-up with retailers on their plans for sourcing offices will also be undertaken through the Victorian Government Business Office in Dubai and the appropriate referral to Invest Victoria will occur.

Maintaining relationships forged by the visit is also a priority for follow-up, with letters of thanks to be sent to companies I met with during the visit, along with an offer to visit Victoria for some of these.

Page last updated: 25 May 2017